Projects promise prospect of safer Prospect for pedestrians

Plans are afoot to reduce vehicle traffic on Prospect Avenue in Hermosa Beach with the re-design of one or more intersections along the busily-traveled street. Two plans are under consideration by city officials, following a series of public hearings on the effort.

The two “demonstration project” choices are at 14th and 15th streets, and at 9th and 10th streets. City officials note that the selections are not final: More public hearings will be held before decisions are made, the first scheduled for early January.

According to data collected by city staff, speeding vehicles are of particular concern, causing more than normal auto, pedestrian and bicycle accidents.

Tentative plans call for curb extensions at the 15th Street location, as well as a pedestrian island and similar curb extensions at 14th Street. Four parking spaces would be eliminated with this plan.

At 10th and 9th streets, a pair of traffic circles are envisioned. A curb extension would be added to the 10th Street project. No parking spaces would be lost under this plan.

The project is being funded by a grant from the Southern California Association of Governments. City officials sought $179,000 for the planning element, but have received slightly less, according to the city’s public relations spokesperson, Laura Mecoy.

The two locations emerged as community favorites following a Dec. 2 meeting, according to Leeanne Singleton, the city’s environmental analyst, based on “feedback provided by the community” at the meeting.

“The project team is currently making refinements to the two concepts the community expressed the greatest interest in seeing demonstrated,” she said, “and those will be presented to the Public Works Commission and city council in January,” before finalizing designs for the temporary installation during March to June 2021.

The city’s efforts have encountered muted opposition.

Tracy Hopkins is part of an informal group of city residents identifying as Advocates for Hermosa Beach. Hopkins said the group is informational rather than confrontational, and its objective is “very simply to follow” activities and proposals of local government and to help inform residents.

“We are just trying to keep city residents up to speed on what is going on,” she said. Hopkins and her associates are encountering new sociological mechanisms for re-thinking and re-designing streets and other public works infrastructure, ostensibly to enhance pedestrian usages. And politics plays a prominent part in the process.

Changes such as those incorporated in the Prospect Avenue project are considered progressive by some; others describe promoters as the “anti-carbon mob” seeking to decrease motor vehicle access.

Advocates for Hermosa Beach issued this statement: “There are a couple of points we have heard concerns about from residents regarding the Prospect Ave demonstration project. There is opposition to the removal of parking spaces on or near Prospect Ave. for curb extensions. Parking is already at a premium throughout Hermosa Beach. And there is concern that the public safety emergency response could be hindered by the proposed traffic circle and median island.

“Likewise, our public safety personnel have not commented on the safety of the traffic impediments being proposed for Prospect Avenue. Previously, police and fire administrators have said that traffic slowing road humps, for example, cannot be installed on Prospect Avenue because the street is a main artery through the city and must be left unobstructed for prompt emergency responses.”

The group suggested “a long-overdue repaving from Aviation to Artesia Boulevard.” ER

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